Batley dad jailed for life for son's murder following attack 21 years ago

A man who smothered his toddler son, leaving him with severe disabilities, has been given a life sentence after being convicted of his murder following his son’s death as an adult 18 years later.

By Staff Reporter
Monday, 28th March 2022, 3:49 pm
Updated Monday, 28th March 2022, 3:50 pm

Alan Bird was found guilty of murder by a unanimous jury verdict at Leeds Crown Court following a trial which concluded last week.

He was given a life sentence today (Monday) with a minimum term of eight years before he can be considered for release.

Detectives from Leeds District CID began an investigation after 19-year-old Lewis Turner was found dead at the home of his adoptive parents in Leeds in July 2019.

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Alan Bird

Lewis had been left with permanent brain injuries after being suffocated by Bird, his natural father, at their home in Dewsbury in 2001 when he was two years old.

Bird was charged over the attack and later pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm and child cruelty. He received an eight-year sentence in 2002 and served five years.

The cause of Lewis’s death was found to be an infection caused by a feeding tube.

Bird was subsequently charged with murder following extensive consultation between the investigation team and the Crown Prosecution Service.

Lewis Turner on a visit to Beaulieu National Motor Museum in April 2019

The prosecution case was that he only had that feeding tube as a direct result of Bird attacking him and that therefore he was criminally responsible for his death.

The jury agreed that Bird’s actions in 2001 were a significant cause of Lewis’s death in 2019.

Bird, aged 48, of Common Road, Batley, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of eight years in custody before he can apply to the parole board for release.

Detective Inspector James Entwistle, of Leeds District CID, said: “This is an absolutely tragic case where a child has ultimately had their life taken away from them by their parent, who should have been there to care for and protect them.

Lewis Turner with Natasha, the family’s Dachshund, in June 2019

“Lewis was initially left with severe disabilities after being seriously assaulted by Bird and died as a direct result of his actions, which were the violent culmination of a pattern of abuse and neglect of this little boy.

“Despite the care and support of his adoptive parents, Lewis’s quality of life was catastrophically reduced by the extensive disabilities caused to him by his father.

“Bird has rightly been convicted of murdering Lewis and the responsibility for his death rests solely with him.

“This was a complex and challenging investigation for my team given the passage of time involved, the expert medical evidence required, and detailed liaison with our colleagues in the Crown Prosecution Service.

“We hope that our combined efforts to achieve justice for Lewis will provide some level of comfort and reassurance to those who cared for this child and young man who was so cruelly robbed of his life.”

In a statement, Lewis’s adoptive family said: “Lewis is greatly missed by all of us.

"From the moment we adopted Lewis, we tried to provide him with as normal a life as possible, despite the severe injuries he had sustained.

“We are grateful that we were able to have so many fun and happy times with Lewis and make memories that we will always treasure.

"Lewis brought us so much joy, laughter and love whenever he was around. Lewis will always be with us.”